"I loathe my life; I will give free utterance to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me. Does it seem good to you to oppress, to despise the work of your hands and favor the designs of the wicked? Have you eyes of flesh? Do you see as man sees? Are your days as the days of man, or your years as a man's years, that you seek out my iniquity and search for my sin, although you know that I am not guilty, and there is none to deliver out of your hand? Your hands fashioned and made me, and now you have destroyed me altogether. Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit. Yet these things you hid in your heart; I know that this was your purpose. If I sin, you watch me
and do not acquit me of my iniquity. If I am guilty, woe to me! If I am in the right, I cannot lift up my head, for I am filled with disgrace and look on my affliction. And were my head lifted up, you would hunt me like a lion and again work wonders against me. You renew your witnesses against me and increase your vexation toward me; you bring fresh troops against me.
"Why did you bring me out from the womb? Would that I had died before any eye had seen me and were as though I had not been, carried from the womb to the grave. Are not my days few? Then cease, and leave me alone, that I may find a little cheer before I go-and I shall not return-to the land of darkness and deep shadow, the land of gloom like thick darkness, like deep shadow without any order, where light is as thick darkness." (ESV)
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Friday of Pentecost 16
18 September 2015
As our congregation gathered for the National Day of Remembrance on 12 September, I could feel the anxiety in our church building. The prevalence of abortion in our culture causes us Christians some serious angst, because we feel so powerless against it. Our chests constrict because we have difficulty fathoming the wickedness in the abortion business. Our stomachs are churning because of the prevalence of innocent death. We need our breath back to pray. Let's pray for life. And this is all the more crucial for us as confessing Christians, because the day of remembrance was not about those people "out there"! How easy it is to point the finger at perpetrators like Planned Parenthood. However, we must confess that there is the complicity of silence among us.
We struggle with the depth of this depravity so deep we doubt the truth of it. We are silent about the wickedness of abortion. "How can these things be?" The human mind is wired to blank out unspeakable horror. This keeps us from being completely overwhelmed when faced with things that the mind cannot handle. However, we cannot let this blind us to the Holocaust of abortion.
How did we get to the point of tolerating abortion? We have killed the worldview that values all persons and puts our commitments to others above our own self-satisfaction. How did we get here? How did we dethrone the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in favor of the god of sexual license? We need to repent. Because we did not teach our children the truth about God's gift of holy marriage, the value of children, and the need for putting others before our own self-satisfaction. The ethic of the Rolling Stones is much more likely to be expressed by my generation: "I can't get no satisfaction," rather than the ethic of the Ten Commandments, that we should neither hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every physical need. Shame on us. We need to repent.
We are now at a place where sex trumps everything, including free exercise of religion and freedom of speech. Your right to have sex with anyone and everyone you want and call it whatever you want and force others to call it the same is now trumping every other right: freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, and freedom of association. The sexual revolution is the most pervasive revolution since 1789. We think we can coerce not only behavior-like the case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk jailed for contempt of court-but also speech. Christians now are considered to be the haters, because we are for marriage as the permanent union of one man and one woman, and against adultery of all forms. Unfortunately, we are closing the barn door after all the cultural cows have gotten out. We should have been speaking much more convincingly against the sexual license that raised its head in the 1960s, sounding the alarm because you can't have it both ways: either sex is triumphant or God is Lord. In the Old Testament, God forbad His people to be joined with foreign peoples who had made their gods sex and fertility. True worship of God and truthfulness about the meaning of sex are inseparable. Making sex our god means that we no longer have the God of Jesus Christ. It means that we have the god of the Philistines and Carthaginians, who put to death children to satisfy their god. We all live under the cross and its mercy, because we are all called to repent. Lord, have mercy on us!
"God rightly calls all persons murderers who do not offer counsel and aid to men in need and in peril of body and life. He will pass a most terrible sentence upon them in the day of judgment, as Christ himself declares. He will say: 'For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me' (Mt 25:42-43).
That is to say, 'You would have permitted me and my followers to die of hunger, thirst, and cold, to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, to rot in prison or perish from want.'
"What else is this but to reproach such persons as murderers and bloodhounds? For although you have not actually committed all these crimes, as far as you were concerned you have nevertheless permitted your neighbor to languish and perish in his misfortune.
It is just as if I saw someone wearily struggling in deep water, or fallen into a fire, and could give him my hand to pull him out and save him, and yet I did not do it. How would I appear before all the world in any other light than as a murderer and a scoundrel?
"Therefore it is God's real intention that we should allow no man to suffer harm, but show to everyone all kindness and love."
Martin Luther, Large Catechism, 1.191-93
Gracious Father, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are Your ways higher than our ways and Your thoughts higher than our thoughts. We do not understand the disregard for the work of Your hands and the wanton destruction of human life that has taken place these past years through the atrocity of abortion. Although we do not understand, we do remember. Although we do not understand, we trust in You. Help us trust. In Jesus holy name. Amen.
For all those who are struggling with the guilt of having made an abortion decision, that they might hear of the mercy of Christ and be absolved of their guilt
For all those who continue to provide abortions and support it, that they would be called to repentance and join us under the overflowing mercy of Christ the Lord, who dies for all persons and all sin
For those who provide service to maintain our homes, that they would be kept safe in their labors and find joy in their vocation
Art: Dürer, Albrecht The Adoration of the Trinity (1515)
© Scott R. Murray, 2015